Illinois’ election board on Tuesday overruled an objection to former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to be on the state’s primary ballot.
The unanimous vote by the Illinois State Board of Elections, which is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, comes after a recommendation that Trump be removed for inciting an insurrection. The board voted 8-0 that it did not have jurisdiction to determine whether Trump is constitutionally ineligible to appear on the ballot, reserving that power for the courts.
Trump will remain on the ballot for the March 19 Republican primary.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a similar case from Colorado early next month. That state’s highest court found the 14th Amendment barred the Republican former president from the ballot over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the building after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.
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Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. On Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, a retired judge recommended to Illinois election officials that former President Trump’s name should be removed from the Illinois primary ballot, but the decision should be left to the courts. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
After brief arguments last week, a hearing officer for the Illinois board said it should be up to the courts, rather than election officials, to decide Trump’s eligibility because of the complicated constitutional issues involved. But the opinion from Clark Erickson, a retired judge and a Republican, concluded that a “preponderance of the evidence” presented proved that Trump engaged in insurrection and should be barred from the ballot.
Five Illinois voters filed a petition arguing Trump is ineligible to be on the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a Civil War-era provision that prohibits anyone who took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.
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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on December 19, 2023 in Waterloo, Iowa. Trump has characterized various attempts to remove him from state primary ballots as efforts to disenfranchise American voters. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican board member Catherine S. McCrory made a statement before her vote, clarifying her belief that an “insurrection” took place during the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. “There is no doubt in my mind that [Trump] manipulated, instigated, aided and abetted an insurrection on Jan. 6,” McCrory said. “However, having said that, it is not my place to rule on that today.”
Trump’s campaign has repeatedly categorized efforts to block him from the ballot as aiming to disenfranchise American voters.
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Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, appealed a judge’s ruling on Friday that put on hold her decision to remove Trump from the ballot until the Supreme Court rules on the Colorado case. Bellow, a Democrat, said she also wants to ensure Maine’s highest court has the opportunity to weigh in before ballots are counted in the March 5 primaries.
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The timelines are tight as Super Tuesday approaches. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the Colorado case on Feb. 8, which likely means there would not be enough time to meet statutory deadlines for Bellows to reissue a ruling on Trump’s ballot status and for additional appeals to be filed before Election Day.
Lawsuits in Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona and Oregon aiming to block Trump from the 2024 ballot have already been dismissed on procedural grounds, Newsweek reported.
Fox News Digital’s Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report.